Irish soda bread is the perfect no-yeast bread recipe! When you need a bread recipe without yeast, try this traditional Irish soda bread recipe. It’s a quick and easy bread recipe you’ll reach for again and again.
I love making this to accompany with soups and stews, but it also goes well with so many other things.
Try this basic quick bread with breakfast or with your afternoon tea!
If you can’t find yeast at the store, give this recipe a try. You’ll want to make it even when you’ve got yeast on your shelves.
It’s also a great first recipe for learning how to bake your own bread and teaching children how to bake!
What Is Irish Soda Bread?
Irish soda bread is a quick bread that uses baking soda as a leavening agent rather than yeast.
With just four basic ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk), it’s also a frugal bread option.
The taste is more like a biscuit than traditional yeast bread. It’s a great accompaniment to soups, but we also like to eat it plain, with just butter. (My youngest likes to add honey to his slice!)
It goes well with many meals, and it’s so quick to throw together and bake. This makes it a perfect last-minute bread.
It’s surprisingly good, and my family quickly devours a loaf of this whenever I make it!
With our Irish heritage, it’s also a great bread to make for St. Patrick’s Day or other holidays.
Irish Soda Bread History
From all accounts I’ve read about Irish soda bread, the Irish didn’t actually invent it. Most attribute the creation of soda bread to the Native American Indians.
However, the Irish adopted soda bread and made it theirs, as noted here. “Not by choice, but by a state of poverty that made it the easiest and least expensive bread to put on the table.”
You will see other soda bread recipes with lots of additional ingredients, and you’re free to add those if you like.
However, I often like to stick with tradition and mostly make it with the four basics of flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. That’s how our Irish grandmothers would have made it.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe
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As I mentioned above, this recipe only requires four ingredients. With just a few minutes of mixing and a bit of baking time, you’ll have an easy quick bread recipe ready to eat!
First, you just add the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
Then make a well in the flour mixture and add the buttermilk.
Mix together the dry ingredients and the buttermilk.
Form the dough into a ball and then flatten into a round disc shape. Then make an “x” in the dough. Place the dough into a greased cast iron skillet (I used coconut oil, but you can also use butter) or a greased baking sheet.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes in a 400° F oven. Bread is done when crust is golden brown and bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
Take bread out of the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Traditional Irish Soda Bread Recipe
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 3/4 cup buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a cast iron skillet or baking sheet with butter or coconut oil.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking soda.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and pour in the buttermilk. Mix the dough with a spoon or your hands until the dough comes together in a crumbly, sticky ball. Add more buttermilk if it seems too dry.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, shaping it into a ball. Don't knead it too much. Just form it into a ball.
- Place the ball of dough into the greased cast iron skillet or onto the baking sheet you prepared earlier. Press the dough, flattening it a bit with the palm of your hand, into a 1" thick round. Make an "x" in the top of the dough (about 1/2" deep) with a sharp knife.
- Place the skillet or baking sheet into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until crust is browned. Tap the bottom of the bread to see if it's done. It should sound hollow when lightly tapped.
- Remove from oven. Let bread cool on a cooling rack before slicing.
One of the keys to this recipe is buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk on-hand, you can easily make your own. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup.
Then add regular milk until it reaches the 1 3/4 cup line. Mix the acid and the milk together, and then let it sit for 5 minutes. Once the milk curdles and gets a bit thicker, it’s ready to use.
Also, I use whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose flour. It’s not an exact science, but you’ll need to add more buttermilk if you decide to use whole wheat flour.
You want your dough to be moist and not too dry. I just eyeball it and try to determine how much additional milk to add (it’s not much, just a small amount extra). It still turns out perfectly. The bread pictured in this post was made with whole wheat flour.
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